Anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, occur suddenly and seemingly without provocation. Deeper investigation shows that anxiety attacks commonly occur when the sufferer is under extreme stress or has a low self-image. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and an urge to flee the situation. Sufferers feel as though they are having a heart attack or cannot breathe, and often rush to an emergency room. Treatment includes anti-anxiety medication, psychoanalysis and learning to deal with stress.
Stress from divorce, moving, changing jobs, death of a loved one or other major life events trigger anxiety attacks.
It is believed that pregnant women are more prone to anxiety attacks than non-pregnant females.
Illnesses stress the body and can bring on an anxiety attack, especially heart and lung disease.
Antidepressants, Ritalin and some antibiotics contribute to anxiety attacks.
Genetics is thought to play a role in anxiety attacks, as anxiety disorders tend to run in families.
Brain chemistry imbalances, including high levels of norepinephrine (which increases anxiety) and low levels of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which both relax the nervous system, are found in people with anxiety disorders.
Withdrawal from alcohol and stimulants causes anxiety attacks.